Trumbull – Dear No. 2 son and No. 3 son – No News From No. 3 Son – February, 1942

Ced @ 1945

Trumbull, Conn., Feb. 8, 1942.

Dear No. 2 boy and No. 3 boy:

This morning as I arose late, as is my wont of a Sunday morning, and glanced out of my bathroom window up toward the cluster of buildings we associate with the name of Knect, I saw but bare brown fields intervening instead of the snow-covered landscape. Only in our own driveway were isolated patches of ice to remind one that a few days ago a real winter landscape was our portion. The change is due to the fact that for the last two days a steady rain accompanied by a plus 32 degrees of temperature cleared the snow off into the swollen streams. (Exciting way to start a letter, n’est sai pas?)

We are at times driven to such little subterfuges as referred to parenthetically above by the realization that there is little news of importance to record and yet at the same time we are faced with the realization that both Alaska and Virginia are hanging on desperately waiting for news from home, as home, in turn, is waiting just as eagerly for news from you. I have lost track of the number of weeks that have passed since hearing from Ced.

Your letter, Dan, postmarked Fort Belvoir on Feb. 2nd is the last we have heard from you. The scissors and the three Spanish books you asked for were parceled and posted to you last week. I feel a bit guilty about not sending the $10 by return mail but as the scissors was the only item marked “urgent” and as you are quarantined for two weeks and unable to leave camp there didn’t seem any need for funds. For my guidance the next time you need funds will you please let me know whether you would have any bother cashing a check, as I would feel much safer mailing a check than I would five or ten dollar bills. Of course I could have sent you 10 one dollar bills at once but that seemed rather bulky. Anyway, to stop the argument here is the ten.

Now as to the income tax, sure I will pay it, if it is made out in ink and properly signed. The copy I saw, as I recall, was made out in pencil. Do you happen to recall what you did with either copy.

It seemed as though you were sober when you wrote the letter because it is quite rational and your sense of humor was very evident even to the addressing of the letter to me care of Aunt Betty, which little touch by the way she duly appreciated, but between that time and the time you put your return address on the back you must have bent your elbow too often resulting in a slight befuddlemenet of faculties in that Pvt. D. Guion gives his location as Co. D, 4th Btn. ERTC, Ft. Devens, Va. Oh well, we have to be understanding with these boys in love.

My last word of advice to you before we pass on to dishing out a few scathing remarks to Ced, is to be sure to get up in ample time in the morning so you won’t keep the captain waiting breakfast for you.

To Ced: As for you, you great big lanky backslider, is your brain so far from the writing finger on your long arm that it takes all this time to get an action message from one tother? First I blamed the delay to Uncle Sam but I’m getting a little suspicious along about now. Tell Rusty he better jack you up or I’ll be blaming him. Come on, loosen up and tell me what’s happened during the last month. I still have somewhat of a fatherly interest in you.

Aunt Betty sends her best to both of you, but this is one of the many things you may take for granted. Spring must be coming. I got a seed catalog yesterday and we turn the clock ahead tonight.

DAD

 This entire week will be filled with rather short (for Grandpa) letters filled with the usual news of family and friends to Dan, in the Army, and Ced, in Alaska.

Judy Guion

Dear Remnants of a Widely Scattered Family (2) – News From Dan – November, 1945

And this leads us quite naturally into quotations from Dan’s two letters received this week. To show the vagaries of the mail, the one which arrived here on Oct. 31st was written on October 31st and his Oct. 11th letter, reached here Nov.2nd, thus justifying the Scripture to the effect that “the last shall be first”, and in that order I shall set them down for your enjoyment: “My actual discharge is still somewhat nebulous, although I have completed most of the processing — which means that my physical examination has been made. The bottleneck is finance. The payroll is quite thoroughly “snafu-ed”. We came here under the impression that the process would make us civilians in 48 to 72 hours. Actually, they are geared to handle 10 men per day — while 30 to 50 men arrive per day. The “back-up” is considerable already and word of the situation has finally sifted up to higher HQ. I still have hopes of getting out in a couple of days, at which time I shall return to Paris to sign the contract with Graves Registration. I don’t remember how much I have told you about the job, but it will do no harm if I repeat that I shall be working as a surveyor “anywhere between Africa and Norway”, at a salary of between $2600 and $3400 per year depending on overtime. I shall be permitted to wear civilian clothes after working hours”.

The other: “I am a civilian (October 15, Etampes, France). I don’t know even yet what sort of work I shall be doing because I have spent all the week buying clothes (officer’s stores), getting photographed and fingerprinted for an identification card and passport and getting settled in my new quarters. The Grand Hotel de Passy is my temporary home. I have a room and bath with hot and cold faucets, which furnish each, an equal amount of cold water, a double bed with real sheets. I dine in the ritzy atmosphere of the Hotel Majestic, at two bits of throw. The tables are set with linen tablecloths, but luxury has compromised with realism in the rest of the table service. At any rate it is infinitely superior to eating chow from a mess kit. Paulette is going to visit me tomorrow and perhaps Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on circumstances. While she is here, she will be presented with the clothes you sent. She will be a very happy girl when she sees them. Thanks a million to you and Marian. If you have not already sent my brown suit, don’t bother. I have been able to get all the clothes I need from the QM stores, except for short-sleeved cotton underwear shirts. Please send me a dozen of these. My camera is still broken down. Please keep me in mind as soon as you can find a 35 mm camera. I am trying to have mine repaired but I am not too confident that it will be satisfactory. I spoiled two rolls of Kodachrome as a result of faulty

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repair work. Even if it doesn’t work, I can get a remarkably good price for it over here. Enclosed is a pamphlet of the type of baby’s bottle that Paulette wants. And of course she wants all the knitting wool she can get. One of the packages has two balls of blue and two of white. Perhaps you have sent more that has not yet arrived. Here is a list of clothes I have been able to buy over here: suit coat (army officers) neckties, bath robe, pajamas, underwear (no t-sleeves), overcoat, scarf, gloves, shirts, “overseas” hat, raincoat. So, you see, I am well outfitted. I have to wear the Army uniform on duty and I don’t think it wise to be burdened with too many civilian clothes in case I have to travel. Please check with Washington about facilities for wives of War Dept. employees. Promises have been made for room and board but no results have been evident. Thus, Paulette cannot be with me without tremendous expense. Love to all, Dan.”

Tomorrow and Friday, the rest of this long letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dan – Birthday Greetings – October, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., October 28, 1945

Dear Dan:

Yesterday was your birthday. I started out for the office with every intention of trying to find an interval in the days work long enough to permit my dashing off a V-mail letter to you, but alas from the time I arrived until quitting time one thing after another seemed to follow in endless demand, leaving but the alternative of incorporating a birthday greeting to you as part of my regular Sunday letter. So here I am, with a lot more desire than ability to state the obvious. Though I have said this to all you boys many times, it still loses none of its force, to me at least, in those quiet moments by oneself when we count over our blessings and mentally list the things we have to be thankful for, when I repeat how you boys have done so much to compensate for the loss of your mother in making life’s daily round so much more worthwhile than it otherwise would have been. While it applies to the other boys too, I am writing especially to you now, and I want to say to you what you must indeed fully realize, that from that moment when I anxiously paced back and forth anxiously waiting for the doctor to inform me that little Alfred  had a new brother or sister, through your mischievous childhood, your grammar school and Boy Scout days, high school, CCC Camp, and your various adult activities right up to the present moment, you have been the sort of son any father rejoices in having. It’s one of those things you really can’t appreciate until you have experienced it, so my main birthday wish to you at this time is that the little Valentine which is now on his way to you for arrival next May or thereabouts, may in turn bring to you and Paulette just as much joy and deep thankfulness as a parent, my boy, have brought to me – – and right now I can’t think of any bigger or better wish to send you. Not to rub it in at all, but we are all going to take time out right at this point to drink a toast to you with – – hold Your breath – – a glass of Burrough’s Cider. So here’s to you from Aunt Betty, Dick, Jean, Lad, Marian and myself, here seated in the old kitchen you know so well. So here’s to you. (Pause) Perhaps we might change this, if you think so, and say, a “moment for silent prayer.” – – You old reprobate.

Thanks for your letter of Oct. 22nd by airmail which arrived yesterday (five days in transit is pretty good), stating you were shortly leaving for Liege, that the things for the Rabets might be sent by express (they are awfully slow coming from Sears), your receipt of Aunt Betty’s letter and some of the boxes with Paulette’s things in them. Do get her to write us how she likes the various things so we can be guided next time if they are not just what she wants.

In contrast to this speedy letter, I also received earlier in the week a letter you wrote and sent by regular mail on Sept. 18th.  In this you ask that a complete layette be sent to Paulette. It is true that packages can now be sent either by mail or express to France but the thing that I am wondering about, if they are sent to a civilian address rather than to an APO  number, is whether duty will not have to be paid, and if so, whether it would not be much cheaper even if a little longer in transit, to continue to send packages addressed to you through regular Army channels. Perhaps France does not impose duties. Will you inquire on this point and let me know promptly if you still want things sent direct to civilian addresses?

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The Lad and Richard Guion’s are entering fully into the spirit of the late summer place idea and both of them, with the aid of their spouses, have or are in the process of making out floor plans showing their ideas for a summer cottage and I am eagerly waiting your’s and Paulette’s ideas. Ced I know is going to have some very interesting angles I am also wondering if Dave will surprise us, even though I do not expect he has given much thought to matters of this sort.

Lad came home on another pass yesterday and he and Dick and dad had a sort of a field day this morning that you would have enjoyed. With the aid of your old Chevy, Lad’s Buick, some borrowed rope and just plain manpower, we pulled down an old apple tree, hauled sundry fallen logs too heavy to manhandle and in general had such a good time in the pleasant October weather that we long overstayed our dinner hour, in spite of which fact the girls were very patient and forbearing and didn’t act all upset. So perhaps we felt all the guiltier.

Dear Dave:

Received your letter of Oct. 12th on the 22nd — not bad for so great a distance. This is the one where you say I am making you homesick by all the references to rides and trips; also that it has become an effort for you to write letters. That is quite understandable. I occasionally feel that way myself and find it an effort to try to sound interesting, knowing you boys will be disappointed if I don’t write and yet feeling that what I write is a lot of trash. And yet I imagine the effort is worthwhile. I know yours is to me. And you have a lot more to gripe about than I have. I keep busy all the time and feel I am doing something useful for your benefit when you come home, but you must feel sort of a let-down with the war over and nothing very important or dramatic to accomplish. I see, like the Guion tribe in general, you still keep your sense of humor, and for the benefit of the others I will quote your last paragraph. “Things go on the same here – we’re still sweating it out and feeling sorry for ourselves. The only change I can think of right now is the addition of a new sign out in the hall up here on the third floor of the Waterworks Building. The stairs going from the ground floor to the top (4th floor) are set in a sort of squared circle with a well going all the way down to the bottom. The sign here on the third floor says: “Don’t jump — will all be home in six months”. I hope the sign is right.

Dear Ced:

I’ll paraphrase what I said to Dan. Just wait to you have a boy of your own that you have a particular fondness for, who made a resolve to write to you at the very least once a month, and then you wait and wait and week after week goes by after the month is up and still you don’t know whether the plane he went up in ran out of gas and could not come down, and then you can appreciate how the poor old father feels, gnashing his fingernails, glancing anxiously up as each plane streaks across the sky, wondering if that is the silent son at last coming home. And so on that sad and doleful note I shall come to the signing off space, but still hopeful, shall continue to remain,

Yours                               DAD

Trumbull – Dear Dan and Ced (2) – A Long Snake With Bulges – February, 1942

2/1/42    page 2

Very little news to record. This morning after getting the dinner started I was lured by the sunshine and fairly mild temperature (40 or so). I set out for a walk at 11:15, intending to walk up the old railway roadbed as far as the reservoir and beyond it, try to find some means of crossing the feeder stream and coming home on the east side. However, due to the heavy rain all day yesterday, the river was so much in the state of flood that I could find no place to cross until reaching Whitney Avenue, then I struck in back of the old mill but must have trended too far east because after traveling by dead reckoning for over an hour I finally came out back of Footherap’s. I reached home at 1:45, 2 ½ hours of steady walking without any rest. At an average of possibly 4 miles an hour chalks up 10 miles with no apparent ill effects except a healthy leg tire.

Business with me is dragging along the bottom during January we hardly did enough to warrant keeping open. If there had been any wolves in the vicinity they have walked right in the open door. I am waiting to see if this is the permanent state of affairs with the war on of the tax situation as it is or whether it is just a temporary lull for adjustment. Food prices are skiting. Dick asked me to get some boiled him for sandwiches. $.70 a pound is the present price.

I heard the other day that Dick Boyce is married and that Bob Kascak has joined the Navy. Household tragedy – – Dave, in carrying a full oil bottle for the kitchen stove hit it on the cellar stairs, smashed it to bits and splashed two gallons of kerosene over his trousers and nether extremities. No one was handy to apply a match or my youngest might have gone up in smoke. At that, he did almost enough cussing to ignite anything within respectable flash point.

Dan, if my memory serves me right, the law requires that when you change your address you are supposed to notify the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Probably if you do not do any driving down there you can get away with your permanent address as Trumbull. Are you still legally the ownee of the car Dick is driving around?

DPG - with Zeke holding Butch

Dave keeps up fairly well with his school marks, the last report card giving him 70 in the Spanish and History, 75 in English, geometry 90. And that’s about all for this trip.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1943. Lad and Marian are very serious and planning their wedding. Let’s hope that Uncle Sam agrees with their plans.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dan and Ced (1) – A Long Snake With Bulges – Feb. 1, 1942

Biss - with Butch and family - 1940

Dan Guion, the first one in.

Trumbull, Conn. Feb. 1, 1942

Dear Dan and Ced:

Over the months, the number of carbon copies comprising my weekly letters waxes and wanes. If I should draw a diagram of them over the course of a year it would look like a long snake with bulges here and there, some larger, some shorter, some quite bulgy as though said snake had swallowed an ox and others and some, like the present, with two boys away, indicating the swallowing of only a rabbit or so.

For your information, Ced, Dan, after leaving Shelton, or Derby, went to Fort Devens near Ayer, Mass., where he stayed for just a week. Then came a postal dated January 28th, reading as follows: “Here it is! Engineers Replacement Center, Belvoir, Va. I am one of about 50 who is being sent to the destination of my choice. Most recruits go where they are needed, willy-nilly. Luck, wot? Belvoir is about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. I don’t know any particulars of my address or station but the future will soon disclose my lacking details. I leave Devens at 5 PM tonight (Wed) via (presumably) Pullman.” And that is the last I have heard directly from my soldier son except that Dave mentioned Barbara having received a card from Dan saying he had reached Washington.

Last week’s mail also brought a card from the local Draft Board granting Lad a B-1 rating until April. I had heard that both the President and Vice President of Producto had gone to bat for Lad on the basis that the company is doing 100% war work, and he, as head of the shipping department, fills an important post – – and incidentally filling it in a manner, so I learned, better than it has been filled by any previous man on the same job.

And as for you, Ced, my erring one, you know what the Governor of North Carolina said to the Governor of South Carolina, don’t you? “It’s a long time between drinks” and that applies to letters from Alaska. I just live on hopes as each day sees me fumbling with eager hands at the combination of P.O. Box 7. It is well, as some poet once remarked, that hope springs eternal in the human breast. There is one thing worse than no letter at all and that is to peek through the glass, see in the box and airmail envelope from Alaska, and then find it to be addressed to an absent brother and have the latest news tantalizingly locked up inside and legally padlocked by Uncle Sam. That to my opinion calls for the exhibition of remarkable qualities of self control on the part of one whom modesty prevents mentioning by name. As soon as we know Dan’s mailing address this small piece of torture will be forwarded to him. But for future guidance, don’t think you have written the letter home under such circumstances.

Needless to say, Dan, we were all jubilant here to learn the news conveyed by your card. So you ascribe it to luck, hey? Well, I’m not so sure. The Century Dictionary defines luck as “that which happens to a person by chance”. I don’t recall hearing that any of the great philosophers have ever written an essay on luck, but it might profitably be a subject for investigation. What proportion of luck consists in having improved passed hours and days so that when opportunity delivers its w.k. knock, there is not so large an element of chance in the preparedness of the person after all. The whole subject would be worth a little more probing. It might form the substance of a fireside chat – not the White House kind, but one of those interesting topics of conversation that to my mind are not indulged in as much as they merit, being crowded out of place by clever wisecracking (which is pleasing and has its place but should not be indulged in to the exclusion of all else), neighborhood gossip, argumentative subjects like the war, politics, religion, etc., but an opportunity to explore the other fellows mind and stimulate some extemporaneous thoughts and possibly unearthing points of view quite new and unique. Someone once said the art of conversation was a lost art and I have wondered if he did not mean something similar to what I have tried to get across above.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish this letter. 

On Saturday and Sun day, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (5) – A Note to Paulette – October, 1945

The final chapter in this quite lengthy letter from Grandpa to his family members who are away from home this week.

Dear Paulette: I am going to answer Dan’s letter through you, thinking perhaps if I send a copy to you it might happen to get through before the one I am also mailing to Dan’s Army address. (When you get through reading and understanding “American” sentences like the above, you can feel confident of writing me in English without hesitancy). Of course I and all the rest of us here are more disappointed than you know at not seeing you and Dan (and the baby) as soon as we expected, but these things do happen time and again during a person’s lifetime the only wise thing to do is to accept them philosophically, after you have done everything humanly possible to remedy them, and look forward to a happier day, and that is the attitude which apparently both of you have sensibly adopted and that shall also be mine. However I am as disappointed really as I could be in for two cents I’d turn my business over to Dave, hop a liner to France and visit you “somewhere in Europe”, possibly even kidnapping you and little Daniel, leaving old man Daniel to keep house for himself while you get acquainted with Connecticut. Maybe I won’t have to resort to such extreme measures but this might be taken as a warning, at that. The things you wanted on Dan’s list, as he has probably told you, were all sent in boxes addressed to Dan’s Army address. In one of the boxes was the wool for knitting babies things. I hope they reach you soon. The next things we send I am going to addressed to you at Calais, to see if they don’t make better time that way. Tell Dan that in one of these boxes also was the winter addition of Sears Roebuck catalog (and it isn’t Montgomery Ward) Dan asks for photographs of the family see you can see what a handsome bunch of people we are. I wish you could see one of Ced in Alaska dressed in trappers costume, sporting a full beard, which we have on a slide. Dan says he would also like a picture of his mother. The best one I have of her is one taken in Larchmont Gardens, a family group, showing all the children when they were little (except Dave who had not yet made his entrance). This I will also send in the next box that goes to you, and I shall also see what I can do about getting photos of the others. For several years past they have all been so scattered around the globe that it is rather difficult to locate any that are “tame”. Tell Dan I was glad to get the snapshot. He looks a bit thinner than he was when he left, as well as a bit more serious, do undoubtedly to his efforts to make arrangements for your homecoming, etc. His job does sound very good and, outside of its keeping you both away, I am quite pleased he was able to land it. In fact, if it is what he expects, I could almost get enthusiastic. Of course I’m sure everything is going to come out happily but it’s the waiting for it that is the hardest. Another thing, it is very seldom that Dan ever answers questions that I ask. I do want both you and Dan to give me quite a full answer to the questions asked of the lake cottage proposition, as I know you both (all) will get a lot of enjoyment out of this place in the years to come. His views will be particularly interesting and I would surely want to have them to consider along with others before anything definite was decided.

Before very long I should like to send to you and the family a box containing a few things to make your Christmas season a bit happier, and I would appreciate it, daughter dear, if you would write down a few things that perhaps you cannot obtain readily yet in France, that you would like to have. I would like so much to do this but it would please me much more if I knew what I was sending was exactly what you would like most. And don’t forget something for Father Senechal, for whom I have a warm place in my heart, every time I think of that friendly letter he sent me. My best regards also to your mother, brothers and sisters, not neglecting to keep a great big share for yourself.

I will be so happy when I get my first letter in English from you. I am sorry I cannot write in French to lead the way, but you know the saying about teaching an old dog new tricks, particularly when the old dog is too busy making a living to take time off to learn any new tricks. Dan says you are pretty good at English, so here’s hoping, whether you write or not, Paulette, my dear, we love you just the same.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday I’ll have more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion